Speaking to Meta2Mil, the Spaniard admitted that he likes to set himself ambitious targets in order to maintain his enthusiasm for racing. “If I don’t have targets, I don’t get that necessary motivation. I always set the Spanish road championship and the Tour of Lombardy as targets, but next year I’ve also put a cross on the calendar on the date of the Tour of Flanders,” said Lastras.
“I already know what it takes to finish the race, so now I want to go a little bit further and finish in the first group. I know that this will be difficult, but [Juan Antonio] Flecha has done it and I would like to get to that level. Of course, I would also like to help people like [Giovanni] Visconti or even [Alejandro] Valverde, if he does end up coming to the team.”
Having signed a new two-year deal with Movistar, a set-up he joined back in 1998 when it was still carrying the Banesto name, Lastras admitted he’s enjoying his racing more than ever. “I’ve got more enthusiasm than ever because I know that these are my final years as a cyclist and I want to enjoy them to the full,” he said.
“That’s why I set myself very ambitious targets because they provide me with the drive that’s needed to keep on training and racing. This year, for instance, I’ve competed more than ever before. I’ve got 98 days of racing under my belt. And while it’s true that I’m feeling physically fatigued, I don’t feel mentally fatigued at all.”
Winner of a stage at the Vuelta a España, which was his fifth success at a grand tour, Lastras has long had a reputation as one of the most canny riders around. Always quick to see and act on an opportunity, his Vuelta stage win in September highlighted his skills.
“Although I thought that the stage into Córdoba was the one that really would suit me, I got in the break on the stage to Totana. Initially, I told [team director] Javier Jaimerena that being in the escape was pointless, that I was going to use up a lot of energy, and all for nothing. But the peloton ended up feeling the effects of the heat that day and that gave us a chance.
“I thought all of the riders with me were dangerous, but particularly Sylvain Chavanel, who was the one urging us all on. He was the one who was telling us when to press hard and when we could relax a bit. I just kept quiet and left it till the last climb. Then I responded in my own style: with a sudden attack and a rapid descent. When I crossed the line I had no idea that I’d taken the race lead as well.
It was only when [Vuelta route director] Abraham Olano said well done on taking the red jersey and I asked him if he was joking…”
After losing the jersey the next day on the long climb to Sierra Nevada, Lastras was in the thick of the action again on the stage he’d long had his eye on into Córdoba. “I knew that if I could hang on going up the climb, I would be able to make a move on the descent. I went over in the front group and moved up towards the first few places because I knew it was a descent where there would be splits. What I wasn’t expecting was to end up on my own with four Liquigas riders,” he explained.
“That’s not happened since I was an amateur. I could see them talking to each other and I realised that they wanted [Vincenzo] Nibali to win so I got myself onto his wheel so that I could attempt to come past him in the sprint. The tactic worked well, but Peter Sagan was going so well that he had time to see what was happening and come past me. When you’ve got as much power under the saddle as Sagan, it gives you a bit more time for everything: to think, to react and to win.”